Nebraska Football
Weekly Press Conference
Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 (Memorial Stadium)
Pre-Northwestern

Senior Offensive Lineman Jeremiah Sirles

On the pass protection against Minnesota
“We let up more sacks in one game than we have all year, and that’s frustrating. It’s frustrating for us because we didn’t hold up like we have. We had a lot of technique errors. We were assigned right almost every time. Pass protection just comes down to technique and want-to. We got beat a couple times and it’s hard to give up sacks like that. It doesn’t matter which quarterback is back there. No quarterback is going to feel comfortable in the pocket getting hit as much as Taylor (Martinez) did.”

On practicing in full pads on Sunday
“Sometimes it’s nice to do something that’s familiar to you after a loss like that. Sometimes it’s nice to put the pads on, go out there and hit someone to get some frustration out and get back in the groove. It felt like we were out of synch sometimes on Saturday. It was nice to get back in a practice situation where you know what you’re doing. It’s a controlled environment that helps us get the rhythm back as an offense.”

On the technique errors
“It was frustrating a lot of the time. It was a drop here or a guy tripping over another guy there. Things that hadn’t happened all year just kind of happened. I gave up some pressure because they ran an inside stunt, I stepped inside, and when I went to step back out my foot got caught with Jake Cotton’s foot. Things like that just happened, and those are frustrating. We have to make sure we work so that that doesn’t happen and we keep whoever’s back there clean.”

On Minnesota’s DT Ra’Shede Hageman
“He’s a good lineman. He’s a giant. He’s a big individual, and he plays very hard. I think he’s one of the better lineman that we’ve faced this year. From what I’ve heard, he’s probably one of the better lineman in the Big Ten, so it was a good test for our interior guys. They got to see where they rack up, and I think we’re going to see guys like him week in and week out from here on out. Big Ten defensive lineman are big dudes like that.”

On the team psyche
“I mean, it still hurts. It’s not something that’s just going to go away, but we have to make sure we move on from it. There are no more bye weeks. There are no more weeks for us to sit there and regroup. We have to go. We’ve got five more weeks of football. We’re in the exact same situation we were in last year where we control our own destiny. If we win out, we go to Indy. We have to make sure we learn from what happened. We have to make the corrections from what happened, and we have to move forward. We have to focus on Northwestern, because they’re a good football team. They’ve had some struggles the last few weeks, but they came in here two years ago and took it to us. Last year we were in a dogfight with them all four quarters. We know it’s going to be a tough game. We know they’re going to come in here hungry, and we better come out hungry too, looking to get this thing back on the right path.”

On the team’s sense of urgency
“I can speak for myself and the offensive lineman in saying that we treat every game with a sense of urgency. We go into every game respecting our opponent to the fullest. I can’t speak for every other room, but I can speak for our room in saying that we do. I would hope I can speak for a lot of the offense guys in saying that we prepare every week like it’s the national championship game. That’s a big message that our coaches tell us. You go out and earn your wins during the week. You earn your wins on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and your mental preparation on Friday. I think we do have a sense of urgency, and that doesn’t take a loss, but this is a humbling sport. It’s like life. If you turn your back on this sport, you’re going to get smacked. I think some of that happened to us. We came out hot. We went right down the field and scored, and then the defense got a three-and-out. I think somewhere along the line things started tumbling and we didn’t find a way to put a stop to it. We needed to say, ‘Guys, we have to get going. We have to get back on track.’ That falls on the leaders of the team.”

On losing focus after going up 10-0
“Honestly, I can’t put my finger on it. I’ve been thinking a lot about it the last few days. I’ve been asking, ‘What happened? Where was the turning point?’ I’ve watched the film three or four times and I still can’t figure it out. It just seems like there was a point in time where momentum shifted and we need to take that as leaders and put a stake in the ground. We need to say, ‘Not again. It’s not happening. We’re going to take this game over.’ As an offensive line, we have the power to do that. With as many seniors we have we should be able to say, ‘Run behind us. We’ll get us the first down.’ We didn’t do that. We didn’t execute on first downs sometimes, and that hurt us. When you get in second-and-nine or second-and-11, it’s hard to keep with the running game. That was the frustrating thing for us.”

On wanting to run the ball more
“As an offensive lineman, you always want that opportunity. At the same time, I remember watching the film and seeing us in an open set and them with seven guys in the box. We have six blockers, so even if you block everyone to the best of your ability, there’s still going to be a free hitter. It comes down to a lot of scheme. You can’t just pound the rock every play. You can try, but if there’s nine people in the box, we need to get the ball to our playmakers on the outside. There were some passing attempts that were frustrating for me, but I think Coach (Tim) Beck called a pretty good game. I just do what I’m told as a pass protector. We have to hold up when we do decide to pass the ball and when we get opportunities to run the ball. I think we only had eight or nine possessions the entire game. So when we get opportunities to run the ball, we have to make the most of it. When we’re out there running the ball and executing, it takes three minutes to score a touchdown. Teams aren’t going to want us out there. If it’s a day when we’re on every series, we’re going to score touchdowns. We just have to be sure that when we get our opportunities to run the ball, we make the most of them.”

On changes between series
“What happens when we start to dysfunction is we start going three-and-out. We have to get that first first down. Whether that means we go fast or slow, it doesn’t matter. When we start getting that first first down, we start getting into a rhythm. We start being who we are with tempos and double cadence. We keep the defense on their toes instead of getting behind the sticks and trying to play catch-up. When it comes to these funk situations we’ve been in a couple times, we just have to make plays. Someone has to step up and make that first first down. The offensive linemen have to get up on the ball on first down and get seven or eight yards with a run. Then with a second-and-manageable, we have them on their heels. Then we just have to keep going. When we did that, we marched right down the field and scored every time.”

On Northwestern
“They’re going to come in hungry. They’re a good football team. They’ve played a tough schedule of games. Overtime losses hurt, and they just make you that much hungrier for a win in conference play. They’re playing for everything right now. They’re coming in here wanting to knock us off after what we did to them last year. They’re hungry for their first win in the Big Ten this year, but they’re going to have to come in and match our intensity. We need to come out with a sense of urgency. We need to come out with a high intensity to come out there and win. We want to run the football and get back to being who we are as an offense. The defense is going to prepare well this week. I want to see them play lights out. If we can come out and do that as a full Nebraska team, we won’t be stopped.”

On social media
“My Twitter mentions after the game were probably 99% positive. Then you have those one or two people that sit at home in their basement on their couch thinking they’re the best football coach in America. They tweet you things when they have no idea what they’re talking about. You just have to ignore those people. Sometimes after a loss that’s tough. I’m a 22-year-old kid getting on Twitter and seeing someone talking bad about my brothers or someone I respect. It’s hard to just let it roll off, but you have to. You don’t want to give that one percent the glory. You want to give the glory to the 15,000 people that came to Minnesota. You want to give the glory to those people who drove to Northwestern and filled up half the stadium or drove to California and filled up half the stadium last year against UCLA. Those are the Husker fans that we enjoy. I love being a part of Husker nation. It’s hard sometimes, it really is. We’re not your average college kids. People base their entire falls off of what we do as a football program here. We just have to be sure that we ignore it. You can’t give them the satisfaction of letting them get to you.”

On getting behind the sticks
“We just have to make sure we execute on first down. Any time you get behind the sticks in second-and-long situations, it’s hard to put yourself in a good position. You don’t know whether to run the ball to get a third-and-manageable or throw the ball to try and get the first down. That’s a hard position to put our offensive coordinator in. We have to make sure that when we’re called upon on first down, we get four or six so we can start running our offense better.”